With the phenomenal rise of plant based meals and more people choosing to go vegan or at least vegetarian every day, many people are asking if their dogs could also go vegan.

The short answer, according to veterinarians at Tufts University Cummings Medical Center, is yes. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

As they point out, many people, dog owners included, believe that dogs are carnivores because they are descended from wolves and that they must eat meat in order to survive. But this is incorrect. 

Yes both dogs and wolves are in the same scientific order, Carnivora, but so are other animals, including pandas which subsist on bamboo. Dogs are actually omnivores and can digest fruits and vegetables. But, just because dogs can digest these foods doesn’t mean they can thrive on a diet that consists solely of carrots and potatoes or other vegetables.

Even the most experienced veterinary nutritionists are challenged when it comes to providing dogs with diets that consist solely of plant products. So if you are a vegan, especially if you chose a vegan diet due to ethical concerns, you may not have choices that are compatible with your dog’s health.

Speak with your veterinarian about dog foods that use eggs and dairy instead of meat. Or you might consider a fish based dog food, or one that combines fruits and vegetables with humanely sourced meat.

But under no circumstances should you try to make your own vegan diet for your dog. This requires expert nutritional guidance from a qualified professional, as the health of your dog is at stake. 

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